Arsenal star Ben White left the England squad earlier in the World Cup with personal reasons cited as the reason he jetted home from Qatar, but it has now emerged that the defender reportedly had a bust-up with Gareth Southgate’s assistant Steve Holland that led to his exit. The 25-year-old did not play a single minute at the tournament, and left following the group stage’s conclusion as the Three Lions defeated Wales 3-0 to secure top spot.
The Daily Star claims that while personal reasons were claimed to be the reason for White leaving the camp, it was due to a disagreement with assistant coach Holland. The Gunners’ defender was unhappy in the camp and struggled to bond with the rest of the squad, despite having been called up with England previously at Arsenal and Brighton.
However the reason for his departure was a clash with Holland for not being able to recite his personal stats and key information regarding England’s opponents Wales, Iran and the USA. The report claims that White turned up to a team meeting prior to the second group stage game against Gregg Berhalter’s side without knowing the requisite information, and he and Holland exchanged words in front of the rest of the squad.
After his departure on November 30, England released a short statement: “Ben White has left England’s training base in Al Wakrah and returned home for personal reasons,” the statement read. “The Arsenal defender is not expected to return to the squad for the remainder of the tournament. We ask that the player’s privacy is respected at this moment in time.”
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“I know [Patrick Vieira – who White now wears his number four jersey at Arsenal] was a very good player. But I wouldn’t know the details. I’m quite busy, I’m always doing something. I watch myself for analytical reasons. I watch England, maybe. I just wouldn’t just sit down and watch a game.”
However despite White’s previous claim that he would watch his own games for analytical purposes, it was not enough for Southgate’s number two and a mutual decision was made for the defender to be released from the squad.
He was named in the squad for the first two games against Iran and the USA, but after not getting any time on the pitch he was not in the squad to face Wales, owing to illness.